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The Reeler Blog

Dear Alan Ball: Fuck You. Love, The Reeler


By S.T. VanAirsdale

You won't be seeing much of me around here in the next few months, because I have a new mission in life. Specifically, I'm training as a projectionist so I can be in the booth for the NYC premiere of Nothing is Private, the directing debut of American Beauty screenwriter/Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball, which Gregg Goldstein now reports Warner Independent picked up today for $1.25 million. Around the time of Ball's Q&A, I plan to smuggle the last reel down to the seating level and BLUDGEON THE MOTHERFUCKER TO DEATH WITH IT.


Kill yourself before watching: Aaron Eckhart and Summer Bishil's legs in Nothing is Private (Photo: TIFF)

If a more facile, stupid, condescending, predictable, smug, exploitive, corrosively despicable piece of wanna-be transgressive horseshit was ever made, then let's have it, because I really am too old to take on a new profession just to get even with this asshole. It goes like this (I'm practicing the short synopsis for my therapist): Circa 1990, 13-year-old Jasira (Summer Bishil) is deeply curious about sex, her body, etc. She gets shuttled from her shrill white mother (Maria Bello) in Syracuse to her conservative Lebanese father (Peter Macdissi) in the Houston suburbs. She dates a black guy who shaves her twat then fucks her, is molested by her National Guardsman neighbor (Aaron Eckhart), gets called a "towelhead," "sandnigger," "camel jockey" and the like. A sensitive pregnant woman (Toni Collette) saves her from everyone's abuse. Everyone winds up in the same room for a climactic showdown, people cry, the pregnant woman falls down, but the baby's OK. Your total comes to $1.25 million.

Think of it like Todd Solondz remaking Crash in a cul-de-sac, but with twice the tampons and a quarter of the self-respect. Ball makes Paul Haggis look like Robert Bresson. This prick couldn't direct traffic in a two-car garage. The hi-def cinematography is barely carpet-commercial grade, slumping into a blown-out honey hue recalling dive bar urinal spatter. The actors grimace through scene upon scene of button-pushing for button-pushing's sake, from bloody panties to competing American flags to adolescent strip/rape scenarios. So controversial, I know. Or maybe I'm the one being facile; do audiences still actually fall for this "dark suburbia" boilerplate? Is Alan Ball that cynical, or are masturbating 13-year-olds browsing porn mags the newest, freshest angle in the Are You Shocked, America? How About Now? playbook?

I could go on, but you'll be able to see it soon enough, apparently. Let it suffice to say that I hope the negative catches fire in a freak storage accident. I hope the power goes out at the New York press junket and that Ball's limo runs out of gas on the way there. I hope black mold infests Warner Independent's offices and the gold peels off its March of the Penguins Oscar. Fuck you, Alan Ball; I want my two hours back.

Posted at September 11, 2007 7:18 PM

Comments (12)

Everyone's a critic.

So the movie sucks. Is that what you're saying?

Way to call it, Stu.

Oh, man. Awesome. I haven't seen the movie, maybe you're totally wrong and it's a masterpiece, but what a way to describe the style that douchebag Alan Ball has been leading to all his career. You rule.

Effing GREAT review. Here's to your career as a projectionist.

I just don't understand why you care so much. You made the choice to go see the movie. If you are easily offended, picky, whatever, why not read the blurb and then accept responsibility when you choose to attend the screening. Obviously, we're all entitled to our opinions, but there's no need to lay all of it off on Alan Ball. This project was based on a novel. These moments were not entirely the creation of Mr. Ball. There was an author, producers, actors, and a crew that all worked on this movie because they thought it was worth making/seeing. If you have to get angry and lay blame, then distribute it around a little bit, and don't forget to blame yourself too.

I hate these sorts of critiques, where the critic holds back what he really think and hides it behind a bunch of mealy-mouthed non-commital empty sentences, things Wikipedia would call "weasel words". Why don't you just tell us your honest reaction, Reeler? We can't all read between the lines.

What a miserable and useless critique. Calm down, mate. The flick has problems but it's still a step above the rest.

Nicely put. A lot of your criticisms also ring true of American Beauty - a massively, predictably overrated film trading on suburban 'revelations' that were old news when David Lynch was writing Blue Velvet. (Shadow of a Doubt makes both films a little unnecessary, right?)

I'm periodically surprised to rediscover how many people really love Alan Ball's work. Then I remind myself that lots of people thought Moulin Rouge was a great film too, and I mull over the thought of just killing myself now to save everyone else the trouble. Bile like yours gives me hope. Stay strong, man.

I agree completely, even though I haven't seen the movie yet. I'll try not to - I've been punished enough by American Beauty and Six Feet Under (not to mention Happiness etc).

Here's to this year's Best Picture winner!

Tell me more about the projectionist deal!

Luv ya,

Don't get all workerd up!

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